Monday, 6 December 2010

Dealing with journalists - An alternative approach

Before anything else, watch this little YouTube video kindly send to me by one of my colleagues a little while ago.



This is a pretty standard journalist trap, made somewhat more creative and entertaining by the supporting character, The Cookie. The politician in this case is Stephen Duckett who, I have learned through my extensive research on Wikipedia, is an Australian economist and health services manager.

The video is undeniably funny, as Duckett tries to evade the journalists questions by cunningly eating a cookie at the slowest rate a man has ever consumed a snack food. He even goes so far as to try and engage the journalist in conversation about how darn good the cookie is.

So is he an idiot? The video certainly suggests he is, but I think there's something very smart going on here, under a veneer of sillyness.

Usually the Bad Person being assulted by the media would charge out barking "no comment" into every microphone within reach. This will lead to a comment in the paper the next daying "Bad Man refuses to comment on Bad Thing". On the other hand, no editor is going to sign off on a story that says "Bad Man ate cookie", because that seems a bit weak all in all.

The press needs a quote, it always needs a quote, and therin lies the strength of the Bad Man. If you can stay clear of saying something incriminating, if you can seem cool and in control (its hard to look guilty whilst eating lunch) then you get to walk free and clear whilst the media tries to put a spin on the nothing that you said.

Of course its a balancing act, stay too far out of the media's gaze and you're 'mysterious', 'aloof' or 'elusive'. The appearence of hiding is toxic, you have to step out and into the blow sometimes and ideally roll with it.

Anyway, this little video amused me, and its a good case study on how to deal with the media in the heat of the moment.
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